‘Philippines has potential to become Southeast Asia’s technology leader’

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is seen to have the potential to become Southeast Asia’s future technological leader given the country’s use of digital platforms and growing adoption of e-commerce, according to the  Department of Trade and Industry.

“The DTI is one with the Digital Pilipinas Movement in believing that the Philippines can be a future technological leader in Southeast Asia,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said during the launch of the Digital Pilipinas Movement.

Backed by the public and private sector, the Digital Pilipinas Movement seeks to enable the country to take advantage of information communication technology opportunities and address challenges in areas which include fintech, govtech, future of mobility, e-commerce and cyber security.

Lopez said among the country’s advantages is the use of digital platforms, as well as e-commerce.

Citing the 2021 Digital Report, he said the Philippines remained the top country in terms of social media and internet usage worldwide.

In addition, he said e-commerce adoption in the country grew from 70 percent in 2019 to 76 percent in 2020 and to 80.2 percent this year amid the pandemic.

“Many online businesses filled the void left by brick-and-mortar businesses affected by the community lockdowns. Online retail, delivery services, online entertainment, digital services, telehealth, work from home arrangements, digital payments—all of these helped us in the past year and continue to do so until now,” he said.

He said the number of online businesses registered with the agency jumped from just 1,848 in the first quarter of last year to 88,575 by the end of 2020 and the number is now at 105,159.

The DTI also saw a shift in preference in the payment method of business name applicants with 67 percent of registration fees paid online.

Through the updated e-commerce roadmap launched earlier this year, the government aims to increase the contribution of e-commerce to the economy.

Under the roadmap, the goal is to increase the number of e-commerce enterprises to one million by 2020 from 500,000 last year.

It also seeks to develop a digitally skilled workforce to support the growing e-commerce sector and build trust between merchants and buyers.

Apart from the roadmap, Lopez said the DTI is also providing training for individuals who want to get jobs in e-commerce and for entrepreneurs that want to bring their businesses online.

He said the DTI is likewise pushing for the country’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts to promote cross-border e-commerce.

To further push digitalization in government, the DTI e-commerce office is also working with the Department of Information and Communications Technology, as well as the Asian Institute of Management  on a project that aims to tap local startups to pitch innovative government technology solutions.

“To conclude, the government remains committed in its lead role in enabling the different stakeholders in the country to ensure that our people will reap the benefits of e-commerce – including the jobs and employment created by it. But we are also confident that with everyone working together, our country can ride the wave of technology towards the future to become one of the technology leaders in the region,” he said.

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